A Different Kind of Calling

Air date: 
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
A Different Kind of Calling was a part of a series, Stories of Love, produced by Alex along with Amy Drozdowska. It aired on WBEZ.

Love has a way of inserting itself in all the wrong places. Sometimes it can even shake your faith. It was 1967 and Father Bob McClory was the associate pastor at the St. Sabina Parish on Chicago’s South Side. These were tumultuous times for the parish. Blacks were moving in; whites were moving out. Father McClory oversaw St. Sabina’s School and he learned that the school had been assigned a new principal, a 35 year-old Dominican nun: Sister Margaret McCalmish. Father McClory was incensed. What would a nun from rural Wisconsin know about running an urban school? Turns out she did, and what followed changed everything. 


Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities. For Alex Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart.

Separated by a river, St. Joseph and Benton Harbor are two Michigan towns that are geographically close, yet worlds apart. St. Joseph is a prosperous, predominately white lakeshore community while Benton Harbor is impoverished and predominately black. When the body of Eric McGinnis, a black teenage boy from Benton Harbor, is found in the river that separates the towns, relations between the two communities grow increasingly strained as longheld misperceptions and attitudes surface. 

There Are No Children Here chronicles two years in the lives of two boys, Lafeyette and Pharoah, struggling to survive in Chicago’s Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complex disfigured by crime and neglect. 

© 2018, Alex Kotlowitz. All rights reserved